The last Judgement, Michelangelo

The last Judgement
Prominently centered behind the altar in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, the Last Judgment is a breathtaking fresco and o­ne of Michelangelo's last works of art. Depicting the end of the world and the judgment that is said to follow, Michelangelo succeeds in stripping his subjects of all of their earthly rank and hierarchy, presenting them as equals now before Christ. It is from Christ that the whole painting radiates, with the saved rejoicing in light and joy and the damned being carried off to the underworld in darkness.

The Last Judgment was a very controversial piece at the time because, unlike other artists, Michelangelo portrayed those in his painting as naked thereby demonstrating the lack of importance that riches would have at the end of the world when humanity stands before judgment. Unlike his earlier work, including the rest of the Chapel which he painted, his depiction of the Last Judgment was much more monochrome as well as gruesome with the souls of the damned cowering in fear as they are dragged down by demons.

Pope Paul III, who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Last Judgment, demonstrated a great deal of faith in the artist's abilities and gave him vast amounts of artistic license. While others criticized Michelangelo's use of nude figures, the Pope offered up no complaint. In addition to the lack of clothes o­n his subjects, Michelangelo was critiqued for not o­nly using the Bible as an inspiration for his fresco but also mythological creatures such as Charon who is seen ferrying the damned as well as Minos who is shown as o­ne of the judges located in the underworld.

Although the references to mythology were allowed to remain, the nudity of the painting was later covered by a student of Michelangelo, Daniele da Volterra.